I have wanted try a block war-game for ages now with Liberty being at the top of the list next to Rommell and Hammer of the Scots. I love CDGs, and almost all hidden information games. With a reprint of We The People nowhere in sight, Liberty is my only way to game the American Revolution. The reviews have been mixed and a number of variants already suggested. Luckily a member of my game club saw my posting on Liberty and geek mailed me. He has the game but no opponents, so a few weeks later he came on down for a first play. Laurin is a block game expert and had read up on the game, and it paid off as you will see.
I really had no idea what to expect as the Americans and I played horribly, losing Washington and his initial force on Long island Sound on turn two. I didn’t realize the importance of disbanding in the winter and reforming someplace stronger. I though I could inflict some casualties on the British but without your reinforcements and French it’s a lost cause, the British firepower is intense, and there is little you can do. I did march Gates and Morgan’s rifle company, my strongest unit, up to Quebec and take all the cities along the way. I knabbed Carleton, the Mohawks, and some Loyalist troops, my only shinning moments.
With Washington smashed, Charleston was also taken by some Brit and Loyalist dragoons. My attempt to take it from one block was thwarted miserably. British reinforcement swarmed the Mid Atlantic as I tried to reform a counter attack from Gates in the North. As I marched south British naval power dropped off some troopers to retake Quebec, ugh, all for naught!
About turn 5 the French arrived (we switched to the variant entry) but I was unable to use them effectively and my two counter attack forces were defeated in quick succession. It was clear that Laurin is a good strategists, experienced war gamer/block guy, and had read up on the rules. I kept thinking with a decent force I could win a battle-not so, the Guards and Hessians are just too strong together. I failed to get a resupply card until 5-6 turns into the game and had 2 turns with miserable cards all together. When I did get some French on the ground, the Brits masterfully surrounded my southern force and whipped it out with a clever naval and Indian move. American hopes for independence were dashed someplace south of Baltimore. I conceded. Despite a crushing defeat it was going to be difficult to occupy enough cities for a British win, but clearly I was pummeled. I remarked that my people like tea quite a bit anyway, and that independence was for chumps, let someone else foot the bill for our Colonial defense!
Thoughts on Liberty
Liberty is good, actually very good. You know a game is good when you are smashed into oblivion and you are wondering when you play again. It may be a little too historical for my tastes; I like a little more flexibility with my war games. The campaigning rules and winter rules are good, but it makes everything really difficult and almost relegate the South to nothing. Historical perhaps, exciting for game play, nope. The cards are pretty lame, and are printed on the worst cardstock we’d ever seen, why they just didn’t add some more spice to the game via the cards they already had I don’t understand. The bluffing and whole point of the game with blocks was more or less underused. The Brits have good troops, the Americans don’t by and large. There wasn’t much guessing or added strategic elements, although that could just be a first play observation. This game is much more warlike and strategic when compared to WtP, and you must make smart work of your troops, and be careful not to get them captured since they are gone for good! This leads to a series of skirmishes and retreats in which neither side will stand for long at the risk of losing blocks. Cutting off retreat routes is key!
The year end dissolve phase and the winter attrirition phase are very clever but make the game a little too hard to plan for in my opinion. All the mechanics are very clever and model this particular conflict without much complexity at all, indeed this game is simple to play but hard to master. It is difficult for the Americans to really inflect heavy defeats on the British but it is equally difficult for the British to deal the knock out blow and occupy 30 points worth of cities. I would suggest some variants including giving VP when Washington is captured and or British generals. Also, one could add VP when Americans defeat (force a retreat) any special British units/leaders in battle. The game just needs a little more incentive and “kick” for a more decisive ending (for me).
That is where the variants come in. Laurin liked all the variants, and after looking them over later: I do too. I look forward to a game with all the variants, plus some new ones to reward strategic captures, and make the game more decisive. All in all liberty is a well designed, clever, and strategic game that models the grand flow of the war quite well.
kind words Wade, but you got your revenge in Hannibal - completely crushing me Nice report, you have a great memory of what happened in the game.
I think the Brits have a real tough time in this one. Not that I've played it much, but they have to control 30 VPs worth of cites. Most of those points have to come from blue cites that they occupy.
Therefore, my strategy going into the game was to eliminate American blocks. Eliminated blocks in this game are not eligible for redraw and go into a prisoner pool. The only way you can get an eliminated block back is by doing a prisoner exchange. I was not interested in exchanging blocks because it gives the Americans more units.
The idea was to kill enough Americans vis a vis my Brits to allow for easy, relatively uncontested capture of enough VP's to win.
Units are rated A (ships), B, and C. "A" units fire before "B" units which fire before "C" units. Amongst like rated units, defender fires first. Ships cannot destroy ground units and there are very few B units in the game. This makes it very difficult to destroy the defender even when he is badly outnumbered due to being able to retreat before they are fired upon in sufficient quantity to destroy them (in most cases).
So the only way to guarantee enemy unit (block) destruction is to totally surround or enter a hex from all hexsides preventing the defending army from retreating. Granted the Brits have generally better units but if the Americans can prevent their units from being surrounded, it will be difficult for the Brits to win. I can see how decisive battles are not doable unless both sides want them.
In fact, I don't think the Brits can win by forcing decisive battles against an American player that always retreats. The Brits must focus on capturing cities. To that end, I think (by looking at the map) that the Brits should land 3 major forces: one in Baltimore, one in New York, and one in Boston. From these cites alone, the Brits control or are one hex away from a whopping 23 VPs! In addition, the area between Baltimore and New York and the area between New York and Boston become potential death traps for the Americans as they can be surrounded more easily by the various British forces.
In addition to this, there are 9 more VP's in the south available from port cities. The great thing about the port cities is that the British navy gives them great flexibility about where to strike. The Americans can not defend all the ports. The best they can hope for is French intervention giving them the French navy.
Another 8 VP's start the game out in British control. So maybe the Americans will have their hands fuller than they think.
It should be interesting to try again, this time with all the optional rules.
I have dabbled with a number of Columbia block games. This one seems a bit more difficult to gain a handle on than some.
The underlying issue seems to be that the very restricted movement means that you as a player need to keep an eye on short, medium, and long term goals at the same time to make real headway.
I have played this one twice, and I admit I suck at it. But I am been having fun, and look forward to trying new tactics out.
My next game plan as the Brits is to dominate the rich cities in the center, and temporarily abandon Boston. Then strike out to grab a few key cities with a combination of ground and naval attacks, hoping to force the rebellious scum to split their forces.